Around the World 1997 Travel Diaries. Part 15, the North Island! Taupo, Napier and thermal parks


12 December 1997, Downtown Backpackers, Wellington, New Zealand:
Won’t be seeing much of the capitol. Got here at 5.30 p.m. following a three-hour ride on the ferry after a three-hour bus ride from Kaikoura. Got a twin at dorm price, NZD 17, since they had no more beds left in dorms, good for us! Chilled for a while, then went downstairs to have some food, they have their own restaurant, pub and even gaming room here, we watched Friends and are now back in our room. It’s really windy outside, so don’t feel like going outside, I’m guessing it looks like most other cities. At least I understand why it’s called City of Winds. Not too happy with our current driver, says almost nothing, he doesn’t even remember to give us important information, like we were being picked up at the ferry terminal.


The drive from Kaikoura to Picton was not that interesting. The ferry takes 4 hours to Wellington, it is a big ferry with plenty of room. We sat with a group of people from all corners of the world and talked during the crossing. When we arrived Wellington, we understood why it is called “the windy city” holy crap it was windy! We stayed at Downtown Backpackers, an old hotel with 70s peeling wallpaper. We got a twin room with the tallest bunkbed we have ever seen! The hotel has a restaurant, pub, gaming room, kitchen and TV room. We had dinner at the restaurant, saw a Friends episode on TV and went to bed. We were tired after spending last night with a quire of 3 snorers.


13 December 1997, Central Backpackers, Taupo, New Zealand:
We’re in a really nice town now, situated by Lake Taupo – the world’s largest crater lake made from one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions almost 2000 years ago in 186 AD. The area still has volcanic activity, one of the volcans by the lake erupted in 1995. According to the Kiwi leaflet we were supposed to visit Huka Falls, but our driver never took us. When we were by the lake we watched some people trying to hit three golf holes from a 100 metre distance, no one managed, but it was fun to watch. Tried to be sensible and went food shopping (pasta, soup etc.) to save some money, but when we got to Taupo we were both so hungry that we went to Burger King instead – tasted good! Went by a pub called Holy Cow to get a cap for Ørjan like the one Deano was wearing, but they didn’t have any. Many from the bus are going out tonight, but think we’re staying in.


Rise and shine! 06:00 for breakfast. Bus left at 07:30. The landscape is not as spectacular as the South Island, no big mountains, only rolling hills. We drove over a mountain pass to the art-deco city of Napier, a very nice town by the sea. If we had the time, we could easily have spent a day extra here. We decided to stay in Auckland until the 17th of December and then go to Pahia on the 18th. There have been some mistakes from Kiwi Experience, they had no bookings from us, they said that the fax from Deano had not come through. Argh! A frustrating phone call. Onwards to Taupo without stopping at some waterfalls promised in the brochure. Taupo is a cool town with a great view over a large lake that was once the caldera of a volcano. It was also quite hot today, first time in sandals since Australia. We are wondering of the driver will take us to the promised locations from the brochure tomorrow…

14 December, entry from Ørjan, no entry from Tanja

We left Taupo in a hurry to get to a geyser in a thermal park that I have forgotten the name of. We got there just in time for the geyser to erupt at exactly 10:15 every day. Just down the road there was a spectacular thermic field, driving there was very cool with steam venting out of the ground along the road. In the park itself there was that smell of rotten eggs again, but this was acceptable when the surroundings were this spectacular. The champagne pool was a large basin with bubbles coming up from the bottom of it, it had a spectacular orange fringe of deposited minerals and it looked awesome with the steam coming from the surface. All over the park it was boiling mud, steam vents with yellow sulphur deposits and large waterfalls with boiling water. Very cool! I guess the early Christian settlers must have thought this was the gateway to hell. In Rotorua there is more of the same, only here it is in the middle of town! Drove past Rotorua and headed for Waitomo. We stayed at a hostel next to the Black Water Rafting company headquarters. We used the afternoon to walk around and relax a little. Booked our Black Water Rafting trip for tomorrow at 09:45.

When we travelled back to New Zealand in 2005 we revisited all of those thermal parks around Rotorua, and even stayed in a hotel with boiling mud pools in the backyard. Read more about this here. We also got to see the mighty Huka Falls, finally.

Ørjan and Tanja

Coming up next: the best day ever! Blackwater rafting in Waitomo.

Categories:Around The World 1997, Travel

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